Carly May: 21 Months

 Carly turned 21 months on the 24th.  In three short months our sweet rainbow girl will be two. 

 At 21 months, she absolutely loves being outside.  Especially swinging, going down the slide and jumping on the trampoline with her brothers. (I love how the static makes her hair stand on end. Ha!)

 She looks up to her brothers so much, mimicking them and watching their every move.  

When they swing, she wants to swing. 

When they brush, she wants to brush.

When they scooter, she wants to scooter.

 When they do homework at the table, she wants to do homework at the table.

When they play transformers, she wants to play transformers.

When they do tablets, she wants to do tablets.

 She is 100% adventurous. And fearless.

 And 100% independent.

 Her brothers adore her, care for her, watch over her and are just awesome with her.  She brings out the best in all three of them, and watching that relationship is a gift I didn't anticipate when I was pregnant with her.

 But the relationship she has with Wyatt is the most special of all.  Those two go together like peas & carrots.  He is patient and kind, always teaching; and she is silly & sweet, always learning.  It's like magic. They never fight, and he never gets frustrated with her. The most upset he gets is when she's into his stuff and all he says is, "Carrr-los!" in his fake angry voice.  It's pretty hilarious!

 For Halloween she's a Seahawks cheerleader, and it's basically the most fun thing ever to see her shake her pom poms!

 She is a mess maker, and I swear I spend half my day at home with her cleaning up after the messes she has made while I've been attempting to get other things done.

Josh was tickled pink when we found the WSU (Washington State University- where we both got our undergraduate degrees) track suit that all three of the other boys wore when they were this age.  She looked adorable in it and we had fun comparing pictures. 

Logan & Jack :: 21 months
Wyatt :: 17 months 

Her hair is so pretty and getting thicker.  She lets me do it everyday, no problem, and only sometimes pulls out her "hair pretties".

 When she's looking for something or someone, this is what she does with her hands. It's pretty much the cutest.

   She is like a celebrity at the boys' school.  During morning drop off and afternoon pick up, she walks around like she owns the joint, or she has crowds of first and fourth graders gathered around the stroller trying to get her to say their names or share her goldfish.  It's a hoot!

She can often be found "reading" to herself, sitting or laying down, and every time I see it, I think I take a picture because it just makes me so happy.  She loves to be read to, especially by Josh. 

 After naps is beginning to be my favorite time with her because it's just the two of us, and she's still so snuggly.  She loves to nurse more, or sit with me and pet the kitties.  That sweet, quiet time is just the best. 
You can just see it peeking out here, her feather taggie (a piece of cloth with ribbons that my mom made), and that's her favorite of the six taggies she has.  I wish I knew why she likes it best, but I'm not sure.  Wyatt had three when he was her age, and he had a favorite too.  Now Carly has his six, plus two of her own. (She had three, but I lost one. #fourthchildproblems)

 It is COLD in the mornings here now, but I am determined to continue walking to school as many days as possible.  (It's so good for my mental health, and for my kids!)  So Carly has quite the collection of coats, but these all-in-one zip-over-everything fuzzy fleece onesies with hoods are my hands-down favorite.  My mom bought Carly this one, and she loves it.  I love that she sticks her hands in the pockets. I mean, how cute is that?!?

 For the most part, her schedule is pretty consistent.  She goes to bed between 6:30 & 7:00 and sleeps through the night. She wakes up between 5:30 & 6:30am, and naps at 11:30am.  But when she gets off her schedule, then she tends to fall asleep in the car, which is the worst!  (Although the boys think she's pretty cute sleeping in her carseat!) 

 She is getting "so big", and that includes a growing vocabulary.  She talks and talks and talks, all the time.  I love it so much.  Most words she struggles with, she uses a "g" at the beginning.  
Phone = gone 
Milk = Gilk
Logan = Gogan
It's adorable.

 She offers me kisses whenever she feels shy, is meeting someone new, or is feeling especially affectionate.  It's my favorite.

  When she sleeps, I can still see the tiny baby she once was. 
I just love those lashes resting on her sweet cheeks.

 Before bedtime, she always gets a little crazy. I'm not sure why. 
She loves when I use the flashlight on my phone to do shadow puppets.
Now when we go to bed every night, she screams, "Quack! Quack!" cause she wants to make a duck shadow. Haha!

She follows me everywhere, which means she is with me in the kitchen, in the bathroom, and in my craft room.  She signs "potty" when I go potty, and loves to play with the toys in the bathtub.  When we're in my room, she asks to wear my bracelets or goes through my bedside table drawers.  In the kitchen, she sits on the bar stools and "cooks" with me. I think if she were my first, her constant messes and our constant togetherness might drive me nuts, but since she's my fourth and my last, I am enjoying all of it.

 Randomly, Carly will touch my face softly and say, "sweet".  She will also say, "I Lauuuu", which is her way of saying "I love you".  While she's nursing she will often pull off to hug or kiss me, or do snuggle nose or "big squeeze" where she hugs me extra tight.  
She gets really upset if someone is crying and wants to help.  She also gets upset if she makes a mess.  I often have to tell her it's okay. We can do teamwork to clean it up.  
I can't wait to see more of her personality develop.

Carly, you are such a blessing to this family.  
We are so grateful for everyday we get to spend with you.
We love you so much.
Big squeeze,


Around Here: Week 43

Logan, number 11

Jack, number 34

Thankful... that the first half of Logan's dose increase is going well.  So far he's just doing the increased dose during the evening.  I am nervous to increase his morning dose as well (worried about tiredness, dizziness and increased headaches), but we will start Saturday so he has the weekend to try and adjust before he has to attend school.  He has complained of headaches a few days this week, and I'm watching his moods for changes, which is another possible side effect. If you think of us in the coming days (as his second dose increases) please lift us up in prayer.  Thank you so much!

Enjoying... flying kites with the kids last weekend in the field next door.  It was just what we needed- to laugh together and be outside together and make some happy memories together.  Carly, running at full speed through the grass, as her brothers threw their kites and ran quickly away from them, hoping the wind would catch and draw them up.  Such happy times.

Picking... all the pumpkins Wyatt grew in our backyard garden.  We had eight total and now have a sweet little family of green & orange pumpkins on our front porch. Plus a giant one that Jack got from his teacher.

Attending... the twins' first basketball game last weekend.  They got beat by the other team pretty bad, but they learned so much and will continue to do so. While I don't think basketball is "their sport", I do think that it's good for them to try different things.  I am anxious to see them improve over the season.

Walking... to school nearly everyday and loving the fall leaves and blue skies so much!  I am wondering if my lack of walking last week (it was cold and I was lazy) is part of why my anxiety reared its ugly head.  In any case, I was determined to get more outside time this week and I made it happen!

Investing... in the SAHM's best friend-- dry shampoo.  My sister recommended Batiste brand and it is going to change my life (aka allow me to take a lot less showers, saving me time and irritation with my children who are obnoxious any time I leave the room.) Go. Get yourself some dry shampoo.  It's amazing.

Applying... and interviewing for a new job. It's scary to think of adding one more thing to my (already very full) plate, but we need more income and I can't bear to leave the kids, so I talked to a friend of mine who works for VIPkid teaching Chinese students English early in the morning before her four kids wake up and she convinced me that it could work for me, so I went for it!  I passed the interview and have a few steps left before I officially start teaching.

Watching... Josh break his back to cut back all the dead roses and plants in preparation for winter.  He also dug out all the bark chips and is replacing them with the beautiful river rocks we have all around the yard.  The front walk is going to look so sharp, and there won't be any more bark chips all over the sidewalk being dragged into the house.

Still... mostly not yelling.  I have lost it pretty bad three times this week, but it was only voice raising (no swearing! win!) and each time was short lived (also win!).  All three times I stopped myself, sending the offending child to their room to hang for a minute while I breathed deeply.  So while I have not achieved perfection, I am really super duper proud of myself and how far I've come.

Allowing... screens for thirty minutes some mornings as a sanity (and yelling) saver. Plus it motivates the kids to wake up & get ready & get their chores done quickly without dallying.  Before, we had a "no screens during the week" rule that we never broke... but then a friend of mine (while discussing my desire to quit yelling) said, "Shelly! Why are you making this harder than it has to be? If a half hour of screens means you can shower and blowdry your hair with no fighting, it's for dang sure worth it!!!" (Thanks Joanne. You're brilliant!) It was a good reminder for me to let myself think outside the box sometimes.

Introducing... Wyatt to the complete magic that is leaf rubbings.  He felt really rebellious breaking the crayons in half and unwrapping them ("Isn't this kind of like wasting, mom?") and then as he colored over that first leaf, his whole face lit up with the beauty of it.  It was so fun.

Crying... alongside my kids as they each struggle with different things.  Their hearts are my heart, and it hurts so much when they hurt.  Whether it's Logan's medication side effects or Wyatt not having anyone to play with during recess, I just can't stand having them sad or frustrated.  I have to keep reminding myself that their struggles are what build character.  And that not everything is up to me to solve.  Boy, it's a hard lesson.

Contemplating... the fleeting nature of this time with my kids.  I looked again at the most intense, amazing book about motherhood (The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison-- thanks Tabitha for the recommend) and came across a quote I shared on Instagram. (Speaking of which, I hit my 2,000th photo shared on Instagram yesterday. So fun!)

"The beauty that I love is the gift of every ordinary day that's left to me... 
It would be so easy to forget to love this life, 
to just go through the motions, 
doing what needs to be done, 
as if it's all going to last forever." 
-Katrina Kenison

Being... extra social as a way of navigating my anxiety this month. Between MOPS, book club, & meeting a friend for coffee I kept plenty busy this week. I feel like I've said it every week in October, but it's true, all my friendships are so special to me and such a blessing.  



Health Anxiety (Hypochondria)

So, I feel like I try really hard to be honest with you guys. (I mean, I told you when I was swearing and screaming at my children, and that's pretty real, right?) But I don't feel like I've been 100% honest about my anxiety.  I will mention it here & there, and I feel like you know I am a worrier, but the truth is that I have severe health anxiety.  I am constantly monitoring my body for symptoms and self diagnosing life threatening diseases.

I don't flippantly think I have cancer, I convince myself that the chills and exhaustion I'm feeling, coupled with my itchiness are from non-hodgkins lymphoma, which I discovered via medical googling.  Most of the time, I am strong enough to combat the desire to medical google.  When I feel like medical googling, I will call my mom instead.  But other times (like last weekend) I medical google until I am lost in cancer forums, convincing myself that my shortness of breath (a sure sign of a panic attack) is from the swollen lymph nodes in my chest, thanks to the rapidly expanding cancer cells that are overtaking my body.

There will be periods of time where I live normally, dismissing everyday aches and pains, and those times are pure bliss.  I find the absence of panic to be so very soothing.  Especially after a bad episode.  But it's always lurking under the surface. 

After dealing with hypochondria (defined as "abnormal anxiety about one's health, especially with an unwarranted fear that one has a serious disease") for the last four years, I have learned a lot about the disorder. For me, a bad health anxiety episode usually follows a traumatic or stressful event.  After moving back to Alaska one summer post-wisdom-tooth-removal, I convinced myself I had C.diff (don't medical google it, just know it's awful); following our move to central Washington last year & the purchasing of our first home, I convinced myself I had breast cancer; and this last bout was preceded by Logan's most recent seizure.  Basically when life gets out of control, my body responds by super-focusing on physical symptoms, which leads to medical googling, self diagnosing and a belief in my imminent demise.

Knowing these are the steps allows me to shorten the length of time a usual episode lasts, which is a huge relief, but I would like to avoid an episode altogether. 

So today I ordered two books that I found on Amazon during a "hypochondria treatment" search.  The first is called Phantom Illness by Carla Cantor, and the second is called Stop Worrying About Your Health by James Umber.  In the past, books have helped me come to better understand depression, panic and OCD. (*afilliate links) So I am hopeful that these new books will help me better understand my issues and will enable me to fight them more successfully.

I don't know if this is true, but I feel like my health anxiety is also related to a sense of guilt I have for being healthy.  I know that so many moms die and leave their children, and between my utter fear of it happening to me, and my overwhelming guilt that it hasn't happened to me, I end up thinking I am going to die after all.

A new connection I learned from this last episode thinking I have lymphoma is that I can't help that other people have bad circumstances, but I can be grateful for my truly good and blessed circumstances.  Gratitude is the difference between living a full life, and living a fearful life. 

This quote from One Thousand Gifts sums up my thoughts perfectly:
"The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest light to all the world." 
-Ann Voskamp


And then today I happened upon Oprah's Super Soul Conversations on my Apple Podcasts app, and I listened to the one she had with Nate Berkus, who lost his partner in the tsunami in 2004.  The entire discussion (which is only 30 minutes) is full of aha moments, but what stuck out for me were these three (summarized) quotes from Oprah & Nate:

"When the soul gets what it came for, it goes."
Which for me is comfort that I won't go until it's my time to go.

"All death is a reminder to turn up the volume on life."
Which goes hand in hand with what I kind of figured out on Sunday after days of freaking out about my body and death: how do you beat death? You live. Every moment, making it the best you can. 

And finally,
"Why you survived is every little moment stitched together."
There doesn't have to be a BIG reason why I'm living and other moms aren't.  It can simply mean I get to carry on.  I have that privilege.  It can just be the little things, the way I love my family and my friends, that make my life monumental.  (I am doing a terrible job at explaining what those quotes meant, but if you go listen to the podcast, I know you'll walk away enlightened, too!)

So in addition to reading those books, and being brutally honest with Josh about my mental health status, I am going to really focus on gratitude and living this one life I've been given to the fullest. 

Thanks for listening.


Around Here: Week 42


Reeling... from Logan having a seizure this weekend, and the corresponding news from his neurologist that he is due for a medication increase.  When we were first putting him on meds back in January, it was a long (long) road as his body adjusted.  He suffered stomach aches, headaches, dizziness and lots of anxiety.  So increasing his meds is making me nervous to say the least.  Prayers for an easy adjustment are welcome.

Visiting... my sister & her family this weekend while Josh worked on his parents land building a pump house.  We let the kids go wild in their costumes at a park near her house and they had so much fun. It was a great way to spend a Saturday in October.

Sharing... a new post, as well as some older posts, about miscarriage as we celebrated Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day on October 15th.  I'll post all the links here so you can read them more easily.

Created... more cards for my Etsy shop this week during nap time and uploaded them this morning.  So many cute cards-- check them out!!!

Not yelling... and sharing an update on the blog.  Basically I haven't been yelling in three weeks, and it feels so good.  I am still occasionally sending the boys to their room for a minute while I calm down, but for the most part I am able to keep my cool, which is a huge change from September.

Reading... nothing this week except for The Magician's Elephant which I am reading to the boys at bedtime.  Up next is How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen, which Ralphie from @simplyonpurpose recommended.

Surviving... seven days (in.a.row) of migraines.  What a nightmare that was.  Thank goodness for Sumatriptan.  It makes me feel like garbage for about two hours, but then the side effects (and the headache) are gone for good!

Enjoying... meeting for coffee & playdates with my friends here.  They are such a blessing to me as I navigate October, which is a notoriously hard month for me.  October 2013 I suffered terrible depression & anxiety while living in rural Alaska, October 2014 I suffered my first miscarriage, also in rural Alaska.  October 2015 I was pregnant with Carly & living without Josh (because he was gone teaching in rural Alaska). And last October, I was adjusting to the boys in school and living in our new hometown, which was hard as summer ended.  I had been doing well this month, but Logan's seizure along with a few other stressors have thrown me for a bit of a loop, so I'm allowing myself to do whatever it takes to get through the days.  If that means I have coffee & playdates four days a week, so be it!  I know that I have to be functioning for this family to keep functioning, so I am going to take care of myself as much as possible.